Dani and I spent the first week of our Christmas vacation on Koh Samui, a Thai island famous for miles of beaches and crammed with thousands upon thousands of sun-seeking tourists like us. We arrived at our house rental after an overnight sleeper train, bus transfer and ferry journey with our five travel companions and settled in for a week in paradise...sort of.
We decided to rent scooters and they arrived on our second day in Samui. It’s a long, long story and I don’t have the patience or humility to regale you all with the dirty details here but let’s just say I was involved in a series of unfortunate and extremely expensive mistakes involving the aforementioned scooter. I was both a novice scooter driver and a klutz. But on the bright side, after mastering the fine art of ramming scooters into a cars, things went fairly smoothly!
We entered a rotation of days spent relaxing at the villa and exploring the island on our motos. Renting our own scooter was liberating and gave us the freedom to zip off where we wanted without the hassle of bargaining for taxi or tuk tuk prices. Plus it was a blast! Definitely on the list of things we’ll be doing again.
Probably the highlight of the island itself for me was hiking in to see the boringly named but beautiful “Waterfall 2.” After a short hike through jungle filled with whining cicadas, I cannonballed into a pool at the base of one of the smaller cataracts for a refreshing dip that was both fun and served the additional purpose of cooling down grimy, sweat-soaked Jon.
You would think that as Koh Samui is marketed as an island paradise that the beaches would be...you know, ‘paradisey.’ Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the quality of the beaches on the island. The beaches themselves were small but relatively nice on the whole…they were just jam packed with (to quote Dave’s amazing line) “my body is a work of art” European crowd in speedos and touts aggressively offering their normal collection of cheap scarves, bracelets etc. On the whole, if any of you dream of beaches and are contemplating a trip to Koh Samui for your fantasy of an idyllic Thai beach vacation, I recommend you look elsewhere.
The saving grace wasn’t so much what the island itself offered though; it was the wonderful people we shared Christmas with! Last year we spent Christmas all alone in a Sri Lankan mountain hotel and, although we had fun, it didn’t feel remotely like Christmas. This year, we were surrounded by friends, we watched Christmas movies, ate Christmas cake and puddings (Both new to me. Thanks Sam!), ate a solid Christmas dinner involving a kilo of Jamaican jerk ribs and a half kilo of buffalo wings and opened presents together. Sam, Alicia, Emily, Shannon and Dave, thank you all so much for making the holidays feel like home! We love you all!
We had a great holiday in Koh Samui and although I don’t plan on visiting the island again any time in the near future (or ever), my memories of the holiday season spent there will last for a long, long time. Merry Belated Christmas! (And since I'm so late publishing this I'll say Happy New Year!)